The top 7 myths of care homes de-bunked
“Care home food is not great”; “residents just sit around watching TV” and “care homes are overpriced”. These are some of the most common and long-standing misconceptions around care and nursing homes. However, the reality is care homes are often a positive chapter in people’s journey through later life.
At Greensleeves Care, we work every day to make moving into care an empowering choice for our residents and their families. Part of this involves helping people to better understand what life looks like within care homes.
Whether you’re ready to consider care or just curious about future options, below we outline and challenge 7 common myths and misconceptions associated with care homes.
Myth 1: “Care homes are only for people who are very ill or nearing end of life”
Many people associate care homes with people with severe illnesses or disabilities, and people who are receiving palliative (end-of-life) care. While many care homes cater for that level of need, this is not the only type of care they provide.
Many people choose to move into a care home while they are still relatively able and independent. They move in for peace of mind, safety, reassurance, a little extra help or company.
This type of care is known as residential care, and can range from virtually no assistance, to a high level of help with personal care and daily activities.
Myth 2: “Care home food is not very nice”
Today most care homes provide highly-tailored, seasonal menus, with many rivalling the offering of restaurants and hotels in quality and variety. Menus are nutritious and balanced, often designed with residents themselves and with much of the food made fresh on site.
Chefs and catering teams at care homes are qualified and highly trained in food safety, nutrition and hydration for older people. They often work alongside other professionals including nutritionists and speech therapists to ensure residents’ diets can support their health.
Today, specialist industry awards such as the Care Home Catering Awards recognise the quality of food and catering across the sector, and many providers’ own recognition programmes – like our annual Care Awards – reward the excellence, skill and creativity of catering teams.
Myth 3: “Residents just sit around watching TV”
Visiting alpacas, school children, games, gardening projects, arts and crafts, baking, exercise, trips to the local pub and days out further afield – these are just some of the activities that care home residents can take part in.
A varied programme of activities is an essential part of a care home’s life. They play a big role in demonstrating two key aspects of care delivery required by the home’s regulator, the Care Quality Commission: how they “help people maintain quality of life” and how they “organise services to meet residents’ needs”.
Of course, if a resident wants to watch TV, they are more than welcome to do so. At Greensleeves Care we firmly believe that we are guests in our residents’ home and work to ensure our homes are spaces where residents feel safe, happy and comfortable to be themselves.
Myth 4: “Care homes are very clinical and hospital-like.”
There is a wide range of styles when it comes to care homes. Some are modern, spacious and purpose-built, whilst others are converted historical buildings full of charm and character. Many also feature amenities like bistros, bars, beauty salons and private cinemas.
Every year accolades like the Pinder Awards recognise excellence in care home design, which is always at the service of delivering high-quality care: corridors that allow for ease of movement, designs that help minimise falls, interiors that support people with dementia and more.
Along with being built and decorated to deliver warm ‘home from home’ spaces, care homes encourage residents to decorate their rooms with personal items that help make their new space feel theirs from day one.
Myth 5: “People get mistreated in care homes”
This is a saddening perception that stems largely from negative media. While there have been unacceptable situations of abuse in care homes, the positive experiences of the hundreds of thousands of people in care in the UK significantly outweigh the negative cases.
Care homes are robustly regulated by independent body the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Home ratings and reports are public on the CQC website and the regulator monitors all aspects of care delivery closely. This includes how all safeguarding concerns are identified, avoided, and reported if they occur; and how effective a home is in ensuring the wellbeing of its residents.
Effective recruitment, training and a strong culture of respect for residents is at the heart of good care homes. There are around 1.6 million highly-trained professionals working in adult social care in England today – from care assistants to qualified nurses. When hiring and monitoring performance, the best care organisations look specifically for values and behaviours that demonstrate that candidates and staff are not only qualified, but deeply compassionate and caring too.
Myth 6: “Residents stay inside and have to give up their normal lives.”
There’s no denying that moving into a care home requires adjustment. However, the idea of care home residents staying behind closed doors is a strongly held myth, and the reality is very different.
So long as it’s safe for them, residents are supported to move freely through the many communal spaces of their home, to travel, and to maintain any activities or relationships they had before they moved into the home.
Part of a home’s obligation to deliver strong, person-centred care is to work as hard as possible to meet every resident’s needs and wants, and to support them in making their own choices. This can be anything from being accommodating with mealtimes to knowing how someone likes their tea, or ensuring their favourite newspaper is available every morning.
Along with residents being supported to be themselves and to get out and about, care homes are increasingly acting as ‘hubs’ in their local communities. Schools, faith leaders, entertainers, healthcare professionals and even therapy animals are standard regular visitors to care homes, and homes often facilitate resident families getting together to enjoy a cup of tea or Sunday roast.
Myth 7: “Care homes are overpriced.”
There is no denying that care is expensive.
The average price of a care home range wildly from £700 to over £2000 per week. The fee differences depend largely on the level of care needs (nursing is often more expensive than residential), the location and the quality of the facilities.
While these are large sums, public financial support is often available. It’s also helpful to remember that fees cover a wide range of costs. Care homes provide 24/7 care, meaning that safe levels of staff must be maintained at all times. Fees also fund the resident’s private accommodation and all meals, and cover the costs of all utilities (e.g. laundry). When broken down, an average cost of £1350 per week means £8 per hour to cover all those key essentials.
Robust consumer legislation around care homes means fees should be clear and detailed ahead of any contractual agreements, and all providers are working hard to keep costs down. A few also offer financial guarantees – for example, at Greensleeves Care, our Home for Life Commitment means that no resident is asked to move out if they run out of funds while in our care.
We hope this has shed some light on the common misconceptions around care homes. If you have any more questions or you’d like more specific advice, feel free to get in touch with the team at your local Greensleeves Care home.